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State v. McCartney

Montana Supreme Court
585 P.2d 1321 (1978)


McCartney (defendant) and James Johnson entered into a cattle sharing agreement in which cows, owned by Johnson, would be on land leased by McCartney. The calves born were branded with Johnson’s 3-Lazy T brand in the spring and sold that fall. The profits were then split between the men. The agreement ended after four years and the remaining calves were sold at that time. Months later, a cow carrying Johnson’s brand was found on property belonging to a company which bordered the land McCartney had leased. Believing it was a stray, the president of the company, John Stahl, contacted McCartney wanting to purchase the stray cow. McCartney agreed, made out a bill of sale, and signed Johnson’s name as “seller” and his own name as “witness.” McCartney also drew a Lazy T in the middle of a 3 as the brand of the cow to be sold, similar to Johnson’s brand. Thereafter, Stahl checked with the brand office and noticed that the cow’s brand did not match the one McCartney had drawn. After Stahl sold the cow for $241, the brand office contacted Johnson who said he did not sell the cow, and subsequently began an investigation. McCartney was charged with one count of felony theft and one count of felony forgery. The trial court, sitting without a jury, found McCartney guilty on both counts and sentenced him to five years imprisonment with four years suspended. McCartney appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Haswell, C.J.)

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